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Oct 16, 2012 4:40 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Most Southampton Village Merchants Do Not See Planned Hospital Move As Hurtful To Business

Oct 17, 2012 9:23 AM

With Stony Brook University and Southampton Hospital moving forward with partnership plans, which include a proposed new hospital building within five years on the Stony Brook Southampton College campus in Shinnecock Hills, it could mean less business for some Southampton Village merchants.

But many of them don’t see the newly announced Stony Brook University-Southampton Hospital plan as a threat. If anything, they see more good than harm from the hospital’s potential move west, especially if the current building is put to an alternate use once the hospital moves out.

Currently, delis, restaurants, pharmacies and specialty stores along Main Street, Jobs Lane and Hampton Road are conveniently located for staff and visitors going to and from Southampton Hospital. Local quick-stops like Ted’s East End Market on Hampton Road and the Deli Counter on the corner of County Road 39 and Hampton Road see a regular influx of doctors, nurses and technicians for breakfast and lunch each day.

“I’m not worried about it from a business perspective,” said Deli Counter Owner Michael Mosolino. “I’m worried about it from a community perspective. Should we have a big hospital? Absolutely.”

Every day, a good handful of the 1,000 Southampton Hospital employees, including medical staff, from the ER to the X-ray, maternity and surgery departments, arrive at the Deli Counter for breakfast, lunch and dinner, Mr. Mosolino said, adding that he often takes leftover food over to the ER.

Whether the hospital is located down around the corner on Meeting House Lane or a few miles away on the college campus, Mr. Mosolino said, “what’s the difference?” He said he feels he has a solid clientele who knows where he is and what he has.

“It may hurt business somewhere, but it’ll be great for Montauk,” he said about the hospital’s plans to distribute more services in East Hampton Town.

He said he sees the announcement as the next step in a natural progression. “It’s just part of the process,” he said.

According to Southampton Chamber of Commerce President Micah Schlendorf, the new hospital should create a boom for the region’s economy. “We think it’s a great opportunity for the residents of East End to have a state-of-the-art hospital, which will generate new jobs and become a great stimulus to the local community,” he said.

Southampton Publick House owner Donald Sullivan said the new hospital would also be a “tremendous benefit,” since in years past Southampton Hospital has struggled in the difficult economy. “From a business standpoint, the hospital is in survival mode,” he said. “In the changing health care industry, the hospital has to reposition itself and plan for the future, and a larger, modern facility at the college campus in partnership with Stony Brook seems to be the ideal situation for a growing, healthy hospital.”

In addition to predicting more job and educational opportunities come out of the new plans, Mr. Sullivan said local businesses will benefit from the new hospital.

“When the hospital was in good health, we did receive some secondary business,” he said of his Bowden Square restaurant. “First and foremost, we must ensure in the hospital’s fiscal health, then everything will follow. If it’s not healthy then it doesn’t matter that it’s right next to you.”

Although Ted’s East End Market Owner Tom Anderson said he had not heard the news, he said he would “roll with the punches” if the hospital were to move out.

“What could I do?” he said, adding that “blue collar” workers are the “backbone” of his business, and doctors, nurses and technicians make up a good part of his customer base. “As long as people need to eat, we’ll be fine.”

Specialty stores, like Southampton Stationery and Hampton Homecare on Hampton Road, also have a solid hospital clientele.

According to Donna Valle, owner of Southampton Stationery, hospital employees make up a sizeable portion of her regular customers who stop in for lottery tickets, newspapers and office supplies, for example. If the hospital joins Stony Brook on the college campus, she said, it would be a positive development that would increase the number of year-round residents, which will provide a boost for the village’s businesses.

“Doctors and nurses might move out here,” she said. “We want people to be drawn to the area.”

Ms. Valle said her shop has sat across from vacant buildings over the course of its 43 years in business, but ensuring that something replaces the hospital once it moves out of its 250,000-square-foot building is vital.

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